In the film, What Poor Child Is This? Poverty and America’s Children published by Films Media Group the audience learns the horrifying reality of just how many of American children are considered poor. In America, which is considered one of the world’s most wealthy countries, there are 12 million children who are considered poor. This film also depicted just how ignorant most Americans are about child poverty. Only five percent of Americans consider poverty to be a problem. Most people only think of adults when thinking about poverty because most people assimilate those they see on the streets begging for money with America’s poor.
In the film, they stated that the poverty level was “out of site and over sized”. However, people seem to be even more absent minded when it comes to children. They too, are affected by poverty in many different ways. Their education, human development, and mental health can all be affected by poverty. This paper will discuss reasons of child poverty, environmental risks that affect poverty, human development problems that could arise due to poverty, and other important take aways from the film. Reasons of Child Poverty In the film, we learn many reasons that families fall below the poverty line.
One of the main reasons for child poverty is the lack of parental education or job skills. When teen mothers do not graduate high school the likely hood of them eventually completing their high school degree and going to college is minimal. Without a high school or college education they will most likely be stuck working in fast food or another low paying, minimum wage job. The annual income of a person working a minimum wage job is less than 20,000 dollars a year. Unfortunately, this does not only affect the parents working, it affects their children.
These children most often rarely see their parents because they are working so much. What little money they have coming in is going directly to shelter or food. These children don’t always have books, clean clothes, or a safe place to lay their head at night. They are also most likely lacking social skills, self help skills, and comfort in their homes. The film also addresses another cause of child poverty, drug use. The issue is not the children using drugs, but their parents. Being in an environment of drug use is toxic. Most likely parents who are on drugs are dependent on them.
This means, the majority of their paycheck is not going to food, clothing, or decent leaving conditions. Their money is going to feed their addiction. Which also is affecting their children. Their children have to come home to a dirty house, no food, and see mom or dad passed on the floor. Not only does this surround them in their home; they are likely to live in a neighborhood where drugs are common. These children are at risk of being sucked in to the drug world themselves. Not having their parents available to help them with homework or other activities makes the child suffer greatly Environmental Risk
In the film, I learned just how important sanitation is to have a stable and healthy life. Living in an unclean house and having fifth around all the time could be considered an environmental risk. Children are forced to go to school unkempt and be in messy clothing throughout the school day. This in itself, hurts their socialization. Other children do not want to be friends with a child who smells bad. Living in an unsanitary environment not only affects those living in the environment but also those around them. Being forced to use the bathroom outside can cause contamination to local waterways, thus making it an environmental issue.
These children are most likely not getting clean water themselves. This could cause health problems, thus affecting their participation in school. Human Development In the film, we learn we learn just how detrimental poverty can be on a developing child. Growing up below the poverty line can affect a child in many ways, one of them being, their emotional development. These children are likely not very attached to their parents because their parents are either working all of the time or participating in other illegal activities.
These children are likely to be more anxious and worrisome throughout their lives. They never know if mom or dad will be there for them and will have a hard time trusting someone else throughout their lives. Growing up in poverty can also affect a child’s social opment. This is especially true during middle and high school years. This is when cliques develop within the school and bullying becomes frequent and aggressive. Children tend to pick on those who are “less than”, and unfortunately those living in poverty are in this category.
At this stage in life, it is very important to wear the “right” clothes and become friends with the “right” people. Those living in poverty cannot afford expensive clothing and often have to wear the same things repeatedly. This would not be socially acceptable to their peers, thus making them a target for bullying. This will make it harder for them to make and keep friends throughout the rest of their time at school. It will be very easy for these children to end up in the wrong crowd because they are the only group that will allow them in.
Ultimately, growing up in poverty has a significant affect on how the child’s social aspect of school will affect him or her. Another human development concept that can be affected by child poverty is cognitive development. At a young age, children need to be stimulated in order to get their neurons firing so they will have better brain development. The likelihood of this happening to child growing up in poverty is slim. These children are not interacted with at a young age, which makes it harder for their brain to develop. They most likely were not read too when young or even taught how their ABC’s.
Children who live below the poverty line often come in to kindergarten below other students. It is likely, that they do not have educational resources at home like most students. Such as; internet, a computer, educational books, educational games, or other important tool necessary for a child to be successful in school. Their parents are most likely not around to help them with their homework or even check to make sure it has been done. Children living under these circumstances will most likely not be successful during school and fall behind other children.
To be honest, I have never really considered child poverty to be a problem. Personally, I only thought adults suffered from poverty but it makes sense that these adults might have children who are also suffering. I think many of us are sheltered from how bad the poverty situation in America really is, especially when it comes to children. I believe that most people want to believe that are children are well taken care of, however, that is not always the case. I think most people only believe that child poverty occurs in third world countries.
When in fact, poverty it is happening right here in America. Take Aways When watching this film I expected that I would be sad when learning about child poverty. However, I was surprised at just how empathetic I was when learning about how many children are affected by poverty. I had no idea that many children in America were suffering. When thinking of 12 million children being hungry or not having clothing, it breaks my heart. Now, if I see a child struggling it will make me consider whether the child is getting enough to eat or is in a safe home.
I do not think I will ever be able to forget just how many children are living in poverty. Another concept I think I will take away from this film is the different types of poverty. The film states that some poverty can be temporary or permanent. Some families might just being going through a rough time and might be struggling for only a few months or maybe just a few years. However, the opposite can also be true. The kind of poverty that affects children the most is permanent poverty. This is where families are constantly falling below the poverty line with no sense of relief.
I think as a teacher it is important to know if the family is in a constant struggle or is just going through a rough time. This can help you relate to your student more appropriately. Something else I will take away from this film is the impact of the environment surrounding children as they grow up. If children are growing up in an environment filled with drugs and drinking the will be more susceptible to participate in these activities as they grow up. These types of environments will most definitely affect children in school.
They most likely have an anxious personality from dealing with horrible things in their home life. Their attention span is most likely affected, due to lack of sleep, lack of food, or lack of other daily necessities. Living in such a toxic environment will most likely affect the child in school for as long as they are living in a bad environment. Conclusion This film has brought to light a lot about child poverty that | had no idea existed. I learned just how many children are affected, the causes, environmental risks, and human development problems that can arise due to living below the poverty line.
I think child poverty is a topic that needs more attention in America. I think the American people are very uninformed about just how bad poverty is. I think child poverty should also be discussed more within the public school system. Teachers need to know just how many of their students are affected by poverty. Knowing this can help teachers plan better lessons, and be more understanding of students who might be struggling. This film I think overall, was very informative and gave a good comprehensive few of just how many lives are affected by poverty.